Every person browsing this site is going to do the same thing this week.
You’re going to spend a lot of time looking at all kinds of ranking systems and advice on who to start for week one.
Most sites are going to have some type of a top ten, fifteen, or twenty list and focus on players like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Andre Johnson.
If you’re here on DLF, you know enough to make that information completely useless. You know the real decisions have nothing to do with your star players. They have everything to do with your flex players, No. 3 or No. 4 options.
We’re planning on offering something very unique in comparison to other sites out there. In this weekly installment, we’re going to suggest some flex players to consider that you simply may not be.
We define the “sneaky matchup player” as a second or third tier player on your team who you’re likely debating against someone else or not considering at all.
This column will give you some names to consider adding to your superstars in your lineup. After all, these players tend to make or break a few weeks every single year. Some of these players will be successful and others will fail.
However, don’t underestimate their importance.
Without further hesitation, here are this week’s sneaky matchup plays:
1. Tim Hightower @ STL
We don’t put many starting running backs on this list, but the job is still Hightower’s to lose. While Beanie Wells will likely get more carries, Coach Whisenhunt has been very critical of Wells as of late and won’t hesitate in using Hightower as a compliment.
The Rams are certainly not predicted to be a defensive juggernaut and the Cardinals may have to run more with their issues at quarterback. Hightower could get more than a few goal line chances in this game.
2. Santana Moss vs. DAL
Moss has been a forgotten man in fantasy circles as of late. Donovan McNabb will need to build rapport with his group and Moss has the maturity and experience he’ll look for.
He’s a low end No. 2 or high end No. 3 option this week, even against a solid defense.
3. Jerome Harrison @ TB
The Browns may just run him into the ground like they did last season until Peyton Hillis or James Davis are ready to contribute more. I’d feel fine using Harrison as a flex player this week.
4. Marion Barber @ WAS
This was supposed to be the game where Felix Jones took over in Dallas, but that’s not looking to be the case. While Barber is nowhere near a No. 1 option, I could see him get a handful of goal line chances against the Redskins.
5. Dez Bryant @ WAS
6. Mike Williams (TB) vs. CLE
Most fantasy owners will want to wait to see Williams prove himself in real games before playing him. I’d rather not wait a month to see what I think I already know. This kid can play.
7. Malcom Floyd @ KC
Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews are going to be the centerpieces of the Charger passing offense, but this is a huge chance for Floyd.
I think he takes advantage of it.
8. Louis Murphy @ TEN
Outside of Zach Miller and the offensive line, Murphy may be the biggest key to Jason Campbell’s success this season.
In a game where they could easily fall behind early, look for Murphy to get a lot of targets.
9. Fred Taylor vs. CIN
Like I said before, I don’t put a lot of starting running backs on this list. Taylor looks to be one of them.
10. Jacoby Jones vs. IND
Jones has been a constant tease in fantasy leagues for years, but this looks like the year where may finally put it all together.
It’s quite possible the Colts take a lead in this game, forcing Matt Schaub to air it out. Who do you think the Colts are going to focus on?
I see a lot of single coverage for Jones this week, and this season in general.
11. Johnny Knox vs. DET
Mike Martz has become smitten with Knox. While there are several more attractive options at wide receiver this week, I think Knox makes a play or two in this game.
At the very least, he’s really the only Bears wide receiver I’d recommend this week.
12. Jabar Gaffney @ JAX
Right now, the two most underrated players in fantasy leagues are Kyle Orton and Jabar Gaffney. Their average draft positions are a total joke.
I think this will be the last week you see Gaffney on this list as he won’t be a “sneaky play” much longer.
13. Rob Gronkowski vs. CIN
This is probably not the week where you need a backup tight end to play, but keep an eye on what’s happening in New England. Gronkowski is poised to become a Vrabel-like goal line threat.
14. Sammie Stroughter vs. CLE
Mike Williams is getting all the press in Tampa, and deservedly so.
Meanwhile, Sammie Stroughter has quietly had himself a very nice camp and has cemented himself a spot in the starting lineup. The Browns were 29th in the league last year in pass defense, so that merits a nice gamble here.
15. Dexter McCluster vs. SD
McCluster is a big play waiting to happen, as indicated by his preseason average of over 6 yards per touch. While he’s likely the riskiest play on this list, I could certainly see him break one during the course of a game.
16. Danny Amendola vs. ARI
The Rams receiving corps is a mess right now, but Amendola may just be the best bet this week. It seems he’s developing a quick rapport with Sam Bradford.
17. Mike Williams (SEA) vs. SF
I’m sold. For now.
18. Sam Bradford vs. ARI
You better have a solid No. 1 option to use instead of Bradford.
However, if you happen to have someone like Roethlisberger as your No. 1 and you’re looking for a spot play for the week, I think Bradford could have a decent outing.
I rarely put much into preseason numbers, but Bradford went 33 of 55 for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the four games he played.
That’s not bad.
19. Carson Palmer @ NE
Speaking of quarterbacks, Carson Palmer’s value may be at an all time low based on the combination of a run first offense and concern over an arm that simply looks weak.
If I have options who are about equal to Palmer (Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, etc.), I like this matchup quite a bit.
The Patriots secondary is in trouble.
20. Josh Freeman vs. CLE
Freeman is going to surprise a lot of people this year, and I think it starts as soon as this week.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK